UK Resumption of Research Phased Plan Guidance

NEW 5/11/2020 When and how will UK resume research activity?

The VPR has commissioned a working group (see composition below) that has been deliberating since April 21 on the development of a plan and process for phased resumption of research.  The developing plan places public health and safety as top priorities during any phase of resumed research.  In addition, our phased approach to resuming research activity will concur with all UK guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following are guiding principles to resuming research activity that will be followed during each phase:

  • Social distancing, defined as 6 feet separation of distance between individuals, should be employed when performing all research activities and during each phase. Social distancing (physical distance) supersedes percent activity within any one phase.
  • Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), consistent with UK guidelines, should be available and employed within each Phase.
  • Performing remote research activities, whenever possible, should remain as the first-choice option for all research personnel throughout these phases until further notified.

We are currently obtaining feedback on the draft plans developed through this process from a variety of stakeholders, including Deans and Associate Deans for Research within each College (who are encouraged to share this with faculty and staff), President of the Graduate Student Congress, Faculty Senate Committee on Research, Postdoctoral Program Oversight within the Graduate School, Provost Office and others.  This important feedback will be discussed and assimilated within the plans, which will then be sent through the Emergency Operations Center for implementation.

We hope to complete the process soon as we understand that we are all eager to resume our research mission.

Resumption of Research Working Group:

  • Linda Dwoskin (Associate Dean for Research (ADR), Pharmacy, Chair)
  • Jim Geddes, ADR, COM
  • John Balk, ADR, COE
  • Bob Houtz, ADR, CAFE
  • Teresa Waters, ADR, Public Health
  • Betty Lorch, ADR, A&S
  • Lisa Cassis, VPR
  • Martha Peterson, EOC Rep
  • Jill Kolesar, COP (clinical research)
  • Nancy Schoenberg, AVPR, CHET Director (community research)
  • Doug Andres, faculty, COM (basic research)
  • Rodney Andrews, CAER Director
  • Baron Wolf, Research Data and Administration
  • Helene Lake-Bullock, ORI, human subjects
  • Bernie Doerning, DLAR Director
  • Brandy Nelson, EHS
  • Gus Miller, Facilities
  • Jeff Sullivan, HR Business Partner

Does this “resuming research” planning process impact remote work?

No. All research that can be done remotely, should continue to be done remotely. We encourage you to continue to advance your research programs through remote work to the greatest extent possible, and this will continue during the early phases of resuming on-campus research activities.

 

How should we prepare for disruption to our on-campus research programs?

Develop a communication plan to assure that you and your laboratory staff are able to communicate over research operations. Suggestions include creation of an emergency call sheet that has contact information for all laboratory members, designating a point of contact for various research-related activities, delineating modes of interactions for research purposes (e.g. remote meetings) and creating a group text. 

Identify research operations that must continue (e.g., special care for animals, cell culture maintenance or on-going experiments), and identify who will be responsible for performing those activities (teams identified with back-up plans). This is especially important for ongoing animal experiments to assure investigators are responsible for animal care that is outside of DLAR personnel responsibilities.

Here is a helpful checklist of items to consider for temporary cessation of lab activities (pdf, 5 pages)

What is considered essential research?

View the definition of essential research here.

Essential research from the perspective of social, behavioral, public health and data science research leaders

4-16-20 (Tom Kelly, Betty Lorch, Teresa Waters, Jeff Talbert, Ellen Hahn, Nancy Schoenberg)

Definitions: Social, behavioral, public health and data science research should be considered essential when it is conducted with consideration of the health and safety of participants, communities and/or populations, or if discontinued would adversely affect patient care (e.g., work that provides services to victims of domestic violence or individuals diagnosed with PTSD).  By nature of its short- and long-term impact (oftentimes for vulnerable populations) social, behavioral, public health and data science research that can be conducted in a manner that protects the safety of staff and study participants (i.e., remote data collection) should continue, even if it is not deemed as essential.  As such, investigators are strongly encouraged to employ workarounds that protect and serve research participants and communities but do not expose them to in-person or other risky encounters. As in clinical trials, the balance between risk and benefit must be evaluated. Research that represents a potential risk to the health of participants, researchers, or the population overall that is not essential has been or must be paused for the present time.

Processes: To assess risk of exposure, investigators are carefully reviewing their on-going projects and assessing whether continuing with the same practices would pose a risk of infection to research participants, staff, or the overall population. If risk is present, the decision becomes whether to pause the entire operation or develop a workaround.

Operations/work arounds: Modifications to protocols include discontinuing in-person or group research activities by (1) conducting the work remotely  (i.e., focus groups using Zoom technology; administering telephone interviews rather than in-person interviews; (2) developing new self-report procedures  (e.g., mailing participants blood glucose self-testing machines); and (3) using new approaches (generally online platforms that are technology-focused like mechanical Turk, etc.).

Examples: A project that uses in-person home interviews has switched to using phone or video interviews. A project that undertook in-person biometric data collection now sends an A1C self-testing machine via delivery to each participant, along with specially created instructions for low literacy populations, and two follow up phone calls.

Challenges:

  • Some essential COVID-19 related projects are unable to be done remotely (e.g., contact tracing).
  • Some of these technologies that are useful in risk reduction are less available to the populations of focus (rural or low socioeconomic status populations with limited broadband).

The costs and availability of such workarounds may be extensive. For example, mailing individual A1C machines will cost approximately $100 per person, an expense that is not covered in the grant.

General Guidance

What research-related work or required training can be done remotely?

  • Consider using remote work time to draft manuscripts, develop new or revised grant proposals, perform literature reviews, develop or edit dissertation drafts, etc.
  • Use this time to review and update protocols such as IRB, IACUC, IBC, or to create new ones for upcoming studies.
  • Develop standard operating procedures for methods and equipment in your laboratories.
  • Consider assigning research-related reading to your trainees and staff and have online discussions of results and their implications towards your research.
  • If you are in a research area relevant to COVID-19, develop ideas towards combating the virus in any way possible and share those with others in the field.
  • Take this opportunity to complete online training. Here are some suggestions:
    • Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR): As a land-grant public institution of higher education, and as a research intensive (R1) university where research is part of our academic mission, it is imperative that we promote and maintain an environment that encourages the ethical and responsible conduct of research. Since much of our research is supported by either taxpayer dollars or through donations to private funding agencies, we are obligated to conduct research with the highest level of integrity, and that instills public confidence in our findings. To help us achieve and maintain these goals, we will be initiating several activities, resources and training to promote the responsible conduct of research.

      To ensure a baseline knowledge of ethical research practices, the Office of the Vice President for Research is implementing a new web-based Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). The training is required for UK research eligible employees and includes appropriate supervision of personnel, ethical research practices and procedures and appropriate maintenance of research data and resulting publications. The CITI online courses consist of 6 modules, in addition to a brief instructional module. These modules are distinct from those that are required, for example, for human subjects research. All research eligible employees at UK must complete the basic course and refresher course annually. The modules are as follows:  mentoring, peer review, research misconduct, conflicts of interest, data management, and reproducibility: https://www.research.uky.edu/responsible-conduct-research
    • Human Subjects Protection: The University of Kentucky's Human Subject Protection (HSP) training requirement, requires all study personnel conducting research involving living human subjects, or data or biological specimens derived there from, to be trained in the protection of human subjects initially and complete refresher training every three years. We also offer additional optional courses ranging from “Advanced Issues in Informed Consent” to “Research with Persons who are Socially or Economically Disadvantaged.” For more information, please go to the ORI Human Subjects Protection (HSP) Training FAQs.
    • Electronic Lab Notebook (LabArchives): LabArchives® electronic research notebook is UK-supported, multidisciplinary and designed to help improve research documentation. Please visit this ORI link for a Quick Start Guide, FAQs and tutorials: https://www.research.uky.edu/responsible-conduct-research/labarchivesr-uk
    • Laboratory Safety: https://ehs.uky.edu/classes/classes_ohs_0001.php#annual_refresher
    • Animal ResearchIACUC Continuing Education (pdf)
    • DLAR Training Page: https://www.research.uky.edu/division-laboratory-animal-resources/training
    • Bayh-Dole Training – Intellectual Property 
      This online training is required for all new employees (after 2/1/2020) and ALL current employees who are working on federally sponsored grants and contracts. If you haven’t taken your Bayh-Dole training or need to confirm you have completed it, log into “myUK Learning” within the myUK portal (pdf instructions)

Should all research-related meetings be canceled?

All in-person meetings, such as laboratory meetings or other modes of interacting regarding research should move to an online format such as Zoom (https://www.uky.edu/elearning/zoom).

How can I decontaminate my workspaces?

Housekeeping/custodial groups will be cleaning high-touch surfaces in common areas such as doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons and handrails. Cleaning of high-touch surfaces in labs, offices, and other similar areas that will not be cleaned by housekeeping can be cleaned by individuals following CDC guidelines and the EPA's approved disinfectants list.

Will package delivery continue?

Inbound Deliveries of Parcels to University Departments 4-2-20:

  1. All mail will be delivered to the address listed on packages/envelopes.
  2. If a department is open and available to receive deliveries under normal business operations, please utilize normal business processes for your orders and deliveries.
  3. For buildings that are closed, or where employees are working remotely and are unavailable to receive shipments, orders may be shipped to the University Post Office for pickup. The address is:

    UK Distribution Center and Bulk Mail
    1247 Versailles Road (SRM Location Code BULK)

    Departments utilizing this option should coordinate package pickup directly from the center, phone (859) 257-6370. Any inquiries for deliveries through the Bulk Mail Center can be made to Kevin Keeling, Supervisor Distribution, phone 257-6370, email kevin.keeling@uky.edu or Tim Gentry, Postal Services Manager, email twgent1@email.uky.edu.

    Note: No chemicals or other hazardous materials should be delivered via this option.
  4. If a building is closed, departments are to place information on the door notifying parcel companies to take any delivery to UK Distribution Center and Bulk Mail, 1247 Versailles Road. It will be up to delivery company policy whether they take the package to Bulk Mail or return it to the sender.
  5. Bulk Mail at 1247 Versailles Road is accepting re-routed packages.
  6. All packages for the University Hospital, zip code 40536 will continue direct delivery to their respective healthcare buildings under normal business procedures.
  7. For the above options, departments should closely follow tracking information as provided by shippers to monitor delivery status.
  8. If none of the above options meet a department’s need, contact the Purchasing Division at SRMHelp@uky.edu or UKPurchasing@uky.edu for guidance. Departments can also direct other procurement questions as needed to either email for assistance.

Will the loading dock in my building be operational?

Loading docks with the zip code 40536 (Medical Center, including the HKRB dock) will continue direct delivery to their respective buildings and locations. This includes delivery of research-related gasses and other materials. The dock will have limited staffing and we will post more details on the hours when they become available. We ask that labs ramp down their research and not order additional materials to start more experiments. However, ongoing orders of supplies will be delivered. It is up to the individual labs to monitor your ordering and shipping needs and be available to receive perishable items. 

All other docks in campus buildings will be operating based on the plans of the building owner (college or unit). We recommend you check with your college leadership (Associate Dean for Research) to find out how operations for your specific college and building will occur for research-related deliveries.

What about research-related travel?

All university-sponsored or endorsed domestic travel is strongly discouraged; international travel is not allowed. Monitor the campuswide COVID-19 response site to get the latest on university-wide travel guidance and policies: https://www.uky.edu/coronavirus/faqs

What about short-term visitors from another country?

No short-term visitor from outside the U.S. may come to campus from any country or region under a CDC Warning Level 3 unless they self-isolate for 14 days after arriving in the U.S. and before coming to campus.

Per the Department of State's most recent guidance (dated March 13, 2020), university sponsors are urged to either cancel their J-1 exchange visitor programs altogether or defer their start dates to a date past the current 60-day suspension period. Therefore, UK's International Student & Scholar Services office recommends the following:

All requests to invite a J-1 exchange visitor should include a start date no earlier than July 15, 2020 until further notice. Updates will be posted as the situation changes. Keep in mind that a July 15 start date will allow for entry into the U.S. up to 30 days before or 30 days after that start date. However, a scholar cannot receive payment from UK until the start date on their DS-2019. 

Per university policy, all other international visitors on campus (e.g. guest speakers, lecturers, etc.) are also included in this requirement.